Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday confirmed 5,508 additional cases of COVID-19, setting another daily total record high since the start of the pandemic. The state now has a total of 109,014 confirmed cases.
Previously, the highest daily total of newly confirmed cases was on Saturday, with 4,049. There were also 44 new deaths announced Wednesday, raising the statewide death toll to 3,281.
Alberto Moscoso, a spokesman for Florida’s Department of Health, confirmed the totals to the Miami Herald on Wednesday. His confirmation comes a day after discrepancies were noted in Tuesday’s total number of cases and deaths.
Florida’s Department of Health publishes its COVID-19 data primarily in three different formats: a COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard, an online summary document and a “case line” data portal.
On Tuesday, the total number of cases and deaths in the state reported on the dashboard and the online summary document did not match, causing confusion among those who look at and report on the data.
The dashboard reported a total of 103,503 cases and 3,238 deaths. The online summary reported 103,506 total cases and 3,237 deaths.
Moscoso says the discrepancy was caused by the dashboard and summary using two different data sets. The dashboard used a “midnight to midnight” set of data while the summary document used a “7 a.m. to 7 a.m.” data set, he said.
“Going forward to provide greater clarity, only the midnight to midnight set of data will be used,” Moscoso said in an email.
On Wednesday, both the dashboard and online summary’s total case and death counts matched again.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Florida
More than half of the new deaths and less than half of the new cases were in South Florida.
▪ Miami-Dade County reported 957 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 24 new deaths. The county now has a total of 27,779 confirmed cases and 926 deaths, the highest in the state.
▪ Broward County reported 473 additional confirmed case of the disease and one new death. The county now has 12,217 known cases and 378 deaths.
▪ Palm Beach County saw 356 additional confirmed cases and six new deaths. The county now has a total of 11,536 known cases and 482 deaths.
▪ Monroe County reported eight additional cases of the disease and no new deaths. The Florida Keys now have a total of 174 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know:
How many people have recovered from coronavirus in Florida? It’s complicated
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Florida
One of the tools that officials are relying on to determine if the coronavirus situation is improving in the state is hospitalization data. Unlike testing, which might be limited or take days to report results, hospitalizations can help give officials a real-time snapshot of how many people are severely ill with COVID-19.
The health department says it does not “have a figure” to reflect the number of people currently hospitalized and only provides the total number of hospitalizations in its statewide and county-level data. On Wednesday, 256 hospitalizations were added, bringing the statewide total to 13,574.
Listen to today’s top stories from the Miami Herald:
While Florida’s Department of Health is not releasing current statewide hospitalization data to the public, hospitals in Miami-Dade are self-reporting a number of key metrics, including hospitalizations, to the county, which has made this data public. Some provide updates every day; others don’t.
On Tuesday, Miami-Dade hospitalizations hit an all-time high for the second day in a row with 818 patients, according to Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” dashboard data. According to Tuesday’s data, 108 people were discharged and 114 people were admitted.
While a record number of COVID-19 patients are filling Miami-Dade hospitals, with one medical center in Homestead reaching ICU capacity on Tuesday, hospitals countywide say they still have more beds available than beds filled with COVID-19 patients.
Hospital administrators say there is also a silver lining in the growing number of new cases and hospitalizations in Florida’s hardest-hit county: The patients are younger and not as severely ill as they were during the first wave in April, and doctors and nurses have gained valuable experience in the months-long pandemic — leading to shorter hospital stays and better outcomes.
The age breakdown of last week’s COVID cases in Miami-Dade, via mayor’s office. The 18-34 demo makes up a third of the cases. pic.twitter.com/phJnuzJ1SY
— Doug Hanks (@doug_hanks) June 23, 2020
Scientists are also still working to learn more about the virus, including how many people in the community are infected and have mild or no symptoms, which can make it difficult to determine what percentage of the cases hospitalizations represent.
COVID-19 testing in Florida
Testing in Florida has seen steady growth since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Testing, like hospitalizations, helps officials determine the virus’ progress and plays a role in deciding whether it is safe to lift stay-at-home orders and loosen restrictions.
The recommended number of daily tests needed varies among experts, but the dean of the University of South Florida’s College of Medicine told the governor that Florida needs to test about 33,000 people every day.
Florida’s Department of Health reported 37,402 new tests on Monday in Tuesday’s daily COVID-19 update. The positive rate was 13.19% of the total, according to the report. In total, and 1,944,730 tests have been conducted.
To date, 1,641,863 people have been tested in Florida. Of the total tested, 103,506 (about 6.30%) have tested positive. The state says there are 1,449 tests with pending results.
Health experts have previously told the Miami Herald that they were concerned the number of pending results listed by the state is an undercount. This is because Florida’s Health Department only announces the number of pending test results from state labs, not private ones — and private labs are completing more than 90% of state tests.
Previously, it has taken as long as two weeks for pending test results from private labs to be added into the state’s official count, making it difficult for officials to project the size and scale of the pandemic in the state. It’s unclear how quickly results are currently being sent to the state from private labs, as the turnaround time varies by lab.
Miami Herald staff writers Ben Conarck, Daniel Chang and Douglas Hanks contributed to this report.